Story & Art by Kotoyama
Translated by Junko Goda
English Adaptation by Shaenon K. Garrity
Touch-Up Art & Lettering by Annaliese “Ace” Christman
Cover & Interior Design by Alice Lewis
Edited by Annette Roman
Call of the Night stars Ko Yamori, a Junior High student suffering from insomnia. Having grown sick of his daily life, Ko decides to start skipping school and wander the streets at night. On one fateful night, he encounters the mysterious vampire Nazuna, who decides to show him the joys of nightlife and feed on his blood.
The most appealing aspect of Call of the Night is the relationship between Ko and Nazuna. While Nazuna is enticed by Ko’s high quality blood, Ko is drawn to Nazuna because of his desire to abandon his normal life. To this end, Ko wants Nazuna to turn him into a vampire, but in order for her to do so, a condition must be met: Ko needs to fall in love with Nazuna. This is an interesting twist for the series, allowing it to explore the emotional significance of love and social connections.
The main barrier to Ko’s goal is his own sense of isolation. Ko feels like he has no meaningful relationships in his life. He has trouble understanding what defines a friend, and even with the few friends he’s had in the past, he’s unsure if those relationships have longevity. The introduction of Ko’s childhood friend Akira Asai forces Ko to directly confront his perception of friendship. While Ko couldn’t imagine someone caring about him after so many years, Akira still wholeheartedly considers Ko to be her friend. In turn, this also makes Ko ponder what Nazuna means to him. Is she just an acquaintance or a friend, and what does it mean to fall in love with her? This approach to exploring love helps Call of the Night stand out from other stories with romance elements, making for a thoroughly engrossing read.
If you’ve seen Kotoyama’s previous series Dagashi Kashi, you will be well aware of his knack for comedy. As you’d expect, Call of the Night is filled with entertaining antics and humorous situations. These can be sourced to the dynamic between Ko and Nazuna. Nazuna’s wacky personality often conflicts with Ko’s more blunt one. Their different backgrounds also cause them to get embarrassed by very different situations. For instance, Nazuna will freely talk in sexual innuendos to Ko’s dismay, but will get flustered whenever Ko mentions love. An especially memorable moment is when Ko shows his neck to Nazuna in public, leading to her freaking out and calling him shameless. Kotoyama has not lost his touch, and readers will surely get a few chuckles out of this volume.
Kotoyama’s art style is incredibly distinct. His character designs have a sketchy yet defined appearance that allows them to stand out from panel to panel. Beyond that, what’s most impressive is the overall composition of Call of the Night. Since the majority of the series takes place at night, Kotoyama makes heavy use of gray and black shading to add ambiguity to the environments. This is counteracted by the various light sources in each scene, which are depicted through lighter shading to represent the range of the light. One of the two-page spreads in chapter 3 showcases this especially well, as Ko and Nazuna look at the moonlit town from an overhead view. Kotoyama arranges numerous light sources across the spread, and you can see the shading and directions of the shadows differ as the lights become more distant from Ko’s perspective. Ko and Nazuna’s night strolls feel like an immersive experience, one that you can’t help but sit back and admire on every page.
Call of the Night is a fantastic series featuring an entertaining cast and surprisingly emotional themes. Kotoyama has crafted a manga with a great sense of humor and a visual aesthetic that will entrance new readers. I’m already craving my next venture into the night!